Merita Cakes, circa 1933

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Merita Cakes, circa 1933

Merita Cakes, circa 1933

March 29, 2017


A promotional photo advertising Merita Cakes featuring employees pictured inside the bakery. 

Marshall Edwards, an Orlando native, is pictured in the second row, second from the right.

Listen as Dr. Robert Byrd, an Orlando native, describes his uncle's work ethic in this excerpt from an oral history interview with Dr. Byrd at the Orlando Public Library on August 12, 2016.

LISTEN Part III (5:39)

What happened is, he was the older brother. Actually, I understand from the family, this happened before thy left Georgia. Actually, as you know, one of the changes that's happened in America is we've become less agriculture where children are not necessarily part of the work force. He was in that time... he was part of the work force. And, as his younger brothers and sisters came along to start school, he became burdened in some way that it was his responsibility to help them get as much education as possible. And so, he dropped out of school in the third grade so he could work on the farm year around... and to make sure the others received more education. I'm certain that none of them were smarter than he was. I mean, I think it was his assessment and recognition of the reality of the situation that kind of led him in that direction. And, his insistence - the family story is - he just insisted to his dad - as a matter of fact - stood up to his dad and told him he wasn't going back to school anyway; so that, he began to help work on the farm and when they came here continued farming. And then later on took on, I think I shared with you the pictures of him working in the bakery, the Merita Bread Company, seems like it was on the corner of Hughey and I can never think of the other street. Yeah, it seems like it was just part of his sense of responsibility in the family.

Photo courtesy of the Robert Byrd Family Archives

According to Eve Bacon's Orlando A Centennial History, the American Bakery Company purchased the Reed Baking Plant in May of 1925, located at the corner of South and Hughey Streets. Merita Bakery Company broke ground September 21, 1960 for its plant at Harding Avenue and Division Street.

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